Tag Archives: Aerial View

Aerial View of West 42nd Street – 1927

West 42nd Street Looking East Towards Times Square

1927 42nd Street aerial view

This postcard view taken by Irving Underhill is undated, but a little detective work led to the date of 1927. Along 42nd Street is a billboard for the movie King of Kings. Further down the block a movie marquee advertises the film 7th Heaven, both released in 1927

In this photograph of West 42nd Street the tallest structure visible is the Paramount Building on the left also completed in 1927. The building once housed the Paramount Theatre.

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Coney Island Beach Crowds From July 4’s Of The Past

July 4 Holiday Views Of Coney Island Crowded Beaches 1938, 1942 & 1955

The crowded beach at Coney Island in the late 1950s

Beaches in New York City are popular during the summer. Especially around July 4. For over 150 years Coney Island has been a magnet for those seeking relief from hot weather. Combine those three factors and you can get huge crowds at Coney Island’s beaches during the July 4 holiday break.

Some people will not actually go on the beach. Instead they’ll walk along the boardwalk, visit the new Luna Park, watch the Nathan’s hot dog gorging contest or enjoy the fireworks show at night.

If you think the beaches get crowded these days, then have a look at old news photographs of Coney Island from July 4 holidays of years past. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #86 – The End Of The Classic Lower Manhattan Skyline c. 1956

Lower Manhattan’s Classic Skyline Seen Aerially From Battery Park c. 1956

And What Became of It

Classic lower Manhattan skyline before the late 1950s transformation. Battery Park is in the foreground. (c.1956)

Every time I’m in Brooklyn and gaze across the East River at the lower Manhattan skyline I feel I’m looking at a city I don’t recognize.

It’s not because I’m old, but it might be because the buildings that have been going up since the late 1950s are cut from the same mold, glass sheathed pinnacles with no flourishes, adornments or personality.

For the first half of the twentieth century, when you came upon New York whether by ship, train or car and got your first glimpse of the skyline you knew you were coming into New York City.

For a native New Yorker coming upon New York today, you may as well be entering the architectural equivalent of the Mall of America, any-city USA. Examples sprout up everywhere of New York’s architectural monstrosities, ugly and tall for the sake of being tall.

Classic lower Manhattan skyline form Brooklyn waterfront in the 1930s. photo: Acme

Commercial Cable Building

The skyline of lower Manhattan had remained pretty much static from 1931 through 1957 Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #16 – 1960s & 70s Aerial Views of Manhattan In Color

Color Aerial Views of Manhattan’s Skyline In The 1960s & Early 70s

nyc-skyline-1-1

The Staten Island Ferry is arriving as Manhattan’s classic skyline is seen from the south c 1963

As Manhattan grows more crowded with slender glass boxes rising all over the island, some say New York is losing its classic skyline.

The truth is that classic skyline started to be lost  in the early 1950s as box-like buildings replaced older “obsolete” structures.

Developers were aided by city planners like Robert Moses whose vision of urban renewal often lead to urban devastation. In the mid 1950s Moses proposed building a ten lane elevated highway, the Lower Manhattan Expressway, across the neighborhoods now known as TriBeca and SoHo. Dozens of historic buildings would have been bulldozed in the process to connect a highway from the Holland Tunnel to the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. Fortunately after a long debate the city abandoned the plan in 1969.

For the most part in the past 300 years, progress and the money involved in Manhattan real estate has never let sentimentality or a sense of history stand in the way of demolition.

Sites that once held classic tall buildings such as the Savoy Plaza Hotel and the Singer Building were demolished in the 1960s to make way for even bigger skyscrapers. With the exception of a few well designed buildings, hundreds of nondescript office and residential buildings have been constructed over the past 60 years.

The current skyscraper building craze has blocked views from many vantage points of Manhattan’s iconic buildings.

These photo postcards were all taken between 1963 and 1974. Manhattan still had many vestiges of its classic skyline and sense of scale in place. They capture lower and midtown Manhattan from various angles just before the permanent eradication of these classic views.

nyc-skyline-1A close view of lower Manhattan’s financial district looking north in 1963. Only a few post-war buildings have been constructed in the financial district.

nyc-skyline-1-2Looking northwest, change has begun as several boxy buildings are under construction near South Street and the FDR Drive as seen directly behind the Staten Island Ferry terminal (1965).

nyc-skyline-2Looking south in 1964 towards the financial district. On the left are the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges spanning the East River. The tallest building on the right is the Woolworth Building. Other tall buildings seen in the center, include the Cities Services Building, the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, and the City Bank Farmers Trust Building,. The modern tall glass and aluminum structure is the 60 story Chase Manhattan Bank Building bounded by Nassau, Liberty, William and Pine Streets. When opened in 1961 it was the sixth tallest building in the world. Continue reading

An Incredible View Of Madison Square 1909

Looking Straight Down On Madison Square During The Construction Of The Metropolitan Life Tower -1909

 

Aerial view of Madison Square as seen by workmen atop Met Life Tower 1908 ph Keystone LOC

The Metropolitan Life Building added a tower to its existing building in 1908-1909 enhancing the skyline of New York. An enterprising photographer from the Keystone View Company made his way to the top of the building to take this incredible stereoview photograph of Madison Square Park and the surrounding area.

Click to enlarge the photograph to bring out some great details.

Dividing the photo into four quadrants starting with the lower right, you can see two workers adjusting rope, one sitting, the other standing on steel beams 700 feet above the street.

In the upper right corner just past the beams we can see horse drawn vehicles along Madison Avenue and across 26th Street. The nearest building in the foreground is the roof of the Beaux-Arts style Appellate Division Courthouse on Madison Avenue and 25th Street. The courthouse is a New York City landmark.

On the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street stands Madison Square Garden with its theater sign clearly visible. Directly across 26th Street on the northwest corner is a four story limestone building, home to The Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Next to the SPCA building along 26th Street facing the park, are eight brownstones, with all their stoops intact. Continue reading

Coney Island on July 4 in the 1930s

2 Historic Photos Show the Enduring Popularity of Coney Island

This is what Coney Island looked like in the 1930s:

Coney Island July 4, 1934

Coney Island July 4, 1934

Million Turn Out At Coney Island

Here’s part of the 1,000,000 New Yorkers who visited Coney Island, a summer resort, on July 4 to get away from the heat of the city, as they disported on the beach, many of them shirtless. Credit line: Acme -7/4/34

Many of them shirtless, imagine that! Don’t you love the old news captions?

While Coney Island doesn’t get a million visitors a day any more, it still gets crowded during summertime. One thing you might notice: there are probably lifeguards present in their high perch chairs to watch over the throngs of swimmers, but I cannot see any in this photograph.

Below – Coney Island Beach three years later in 1937. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #57

Aerial View of Lower Manhattan – Late 1920s

Lower Manhattan from airplane looking south 1934In this aerial view looking south upon lower Manhattan in the late 1920s, the first thing you notice is the concentration of skyscrapers in lower Manhattan contrasted to the low profile tenements in the foreground that make up part of the lower east side.

There are also an abundance of piers along the East River, most of which have now vanished. Looking at the harbor, a large number of boats are active in the bay and on the Hudson River. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #56

Manhattan Looking North & West From Madison Square Garden Tower – 1893

view North and west from Madison Square Garden Tower 1893This photograph taken by the firm of H.N. Tiemann shows the emerging profile of New York around 1893. The tallest structures visible are mostly steeples of the many churches that are spread throughout Manhattan.

We are looking north and west from 26th Street between Fourth and Madison Avenues from the tower of Madison Square Garden, designed by architectural giants McKim, Mead & White in 1890.

Scottish Rite Hall photo Kings Handbook of New YorkBesides churches, there are two buildings that are prominent in the photo. One was a former church, in the center lower portion of the image, the Scottish Rite Hall with the steeple tower at the corner of 29th Street and Madison Avenue. The building Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #55

Staten Island Ferry And Terminals – 1960

Staten Island Ferry Terminal aerial April 5 1960

This aerial photograph taken April 5, 1960 shows one of the boats of the Staten Island Ferry in motion while the other ferry boat is idle. The Whitehall or South Ferry terminal (originally named the Municipal Ferry Terminal) was built between 1908-1909 by architects Richard A. Walker and Charles Morris. The terminal was stripped to its steel skeleton and reconstructed in 1957.

Original ferry waiting room 1909 Architects' and Builders' Magazine

Original ferry waiting room Architects’ and Builders’ Magazine November 1909

The Staten Island Ferry used this utilitarian structure until September 8, 1991, when a mysterious fire badly damaged the building. An interim terminal was set up in the lower portion of the terminal which operated for many years while plans for a new terminal were bandied about for years. Finally the new Whitehall Terminal was constructed and rededicated in 2005.

The 25 minute crossing to Staten Island offers one of the great bargain viewing sites of the city from the harbor: in essence, a cruise for free.

When the fare was established in 1897 Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #52-A

Penn Station And The City At Night – January 1941

Pennsylvania Station seen at night from The New Yorker Hotel January 1941 - photo Underwood & Underwood

Pennsylvania Station seen at night seen from The New Yorker Hotel January 1941 – photo Underwood & Underwood

Every time you see photographs of New York’s old Pennsylvania Railroad Station you have to ask yourself how could this architectural masterpiece be knocked down and carted off piece by majestic piece to the landfill? The answer resided with the owners of the Pennsylvania Railroad and real estate developers who saw the station as a white elephant: filthy; declining train ridership; losing tons of money and impractical as a revenue generator. The land Penn Station sat upon was too valuable to let this monument to interstate travel remain in place. It would be redeveloped as office buildings and the fourth Madison Square Garden put in its place with the railroad station relegated to an unsightly subterranean labyrinth.

Soon after its destruction lasting from 1963 -1966, the city and New Yorkers began yearning for the old Penn Station. All New Yorkers today await a suitable replacement for the modern underground lair we now possess ignominiously called Penn Station.

Look at this panoramic view of Manhattan looking lit up to capacity in January 1941. Here is the original photo caption:

Pennsylvania Station

The electric glamor of New York by night shines out in this shot looking southeast from the roof of the Hotel New Yorker at 34th Street and 8th Avenue.  Directly below is Pennsylvania Terminal, its glass roof aglow. Surrounding it are gleaming office buildings and hotels. No more thrilling metropolitan scene could be recommended to the thousands who arrive at this station daily. The beacon-like light in the background surmounts the Metropolitan Life Building (23rd Street Madison Avenue). credit: Underwood & Underwood,  January 26, 1941

11 months later this photographic view would not be possible because America had entered World War II. The mandatory brownouts (dimming of all lights at night) in American cities blotted out the spectacle of light and cast a protective veil over New York City that would not be lifted until the conclusion of the war in 1945.

editor’s note; We have changed the title of this story to Old New York in Photos 52-A because someone forgot how to count – there were two number 52’s!